In Cuba, being too pretty can land you in jail – UPDATE

Laura is in her 30s, stunningly beautiful, and not yet married (although she would like to be). To reward her hard work, she once won tickets from her employer to go to a night club with live music. Such clubs are frequented by tourists to Cuba, but the entrance fees are out of the reach of most Cubans, even those like Laura with good jobs. When leaving the club, Laura’s beauty caught the attention of the police, who accused her of having gone to that club to work as a prostitute for foreigners. She sobbed and pleaded with them, but under Cuba’s “ley de la peligrosidad” (law of dangerousness), you can be accused of loitering, working as a prostitute, or other offenses with no evidence. If you are stopped three times for the same offense (or in Laura’s case, unfounded accusation) you can go to jail. Unable to persuade the police that night she had just been with friends at the club, Laura went back to the police station the next day with her father so that he could give testimony that she is not a prostitute. Known by her friends as “The Black Virgin” because of her beauty and purity, I can only imagine how humiliated both she and her father felt that she was accused of being a prostitute.

Imagine that. The government empowers its agents to arrest you and accuse you just because they suspect you. Because you’re too good-looking to be where the rich people are unless you’re a whore.

This beautiful “black virgin” also took some risks to help a man who was languishing in prison for the crime of trying to sell a few packets of soy on the black market; the government of Cuba promotes soy, as it is cheaper than beef.

We learn about Laura, and about Cuba, and the Virgin of Charity, and also about why Pope Benedict’s visit was important to that tiny island in this great piece by Margarita A. Mooney. You’ll want to read it all.

In his general audience today, Pope Benedict said that his recent trips to Mexico and Cuba was “etched on my heart”:

The next day I celebrated Mass in Havana’s main square, crowded with people. I reminded them all that Cuba and the world needed change, but this will only happen if everyone is open to the integral truth about man, which is essential for achieving freedom, and if everyone decides to sow the seeds of reconciliation and brotherhood around them, founding the their lives on Jesus Christ: He alone can dispel the darkness of error, helping to defeat the evil and all that oppresses us. I also wanted to reiterate that the Church does not demand privileges, but also to be able to proclaim and celebrate the faith publicly, bringing the Gospel message of hope and peace to every area of society. While appreciating the steps taken by the Cuban authorities so far in this direction, I stressed the need to continue on this path of ever greater religious freedom.

In Cuba this Good Friday, Catholics will be able to observe the day as a recognized holiday. As we enter the Triduum, let us remember the Christians throughout the world who do not enjoy an unemcumbered ability to worship, and do not enjoy freedom of religion in either ministry, mission or practice!

UPDATE: Apparently, hanging around the giant crowds surrounding the pope will get you arrested, too

Cuba, Bush and the Lives of Others
Caridad Nos Une

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • dry valleys

    Cuba, as far as I can gather, is basically becoming China II under Raul’s leadership, ceasing to have a command economy, but still with an authoritarian state. Doubtless investors will be happy, but Cubans won’t.

    Daily Fail readers will also have heard about the pitfalls of being too pretty (too pretty for what?)

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Many thanks for running this story, Anchoress!
    Viva Christo Rey!

  • kenneth

    The police weren’t upset because they thought she was a prostitute. They were upset because they thought she was a prostitute who was not paying the customary “tributes” to and through their organization. Black markets don’t happen in police states without some level of tacit approval and involvement by authorities.

  • Manny

    Prayers for the good people of Cuba. This doesn’t surprise me. There are so many evil dimensions to communism that it’s beyond human comprehension just how deep and multifacet. Just prick one finger of the body politic and one aspect of evil spews out. Prick another and more comes out that one never fathomed. There aren’t enough pricks possible to fully understand every aspect of its evil. It is the complete and comprehensive degradation of man.

  • Mila

    Thak you, Anchoress, for leading us to this excellent piece. I echo Manny in asking for prayers for the good people of Cuba. As soon as the Holy Father left, and even before his arrival, repression has intensified.

  • Elaine S.

    “The police weren’t upset because they thought she was a prostitute. They were upset because they thought she was a prostitute who was not paying the customary “tributes” to and through their organization.”
    I wonder if the Cuban cops might not also be using this tactic as a form of sexual harassment or blackmail against women they lust after — perhaps promising to drop the charges in return for sexual favors?

  • conservativemama

    Thank you for sharing this window into Cuba. My parents left Cuba in January 1961. Their generation is dying with many having never seen their homeland again. The closest my mother got was on a cruise ship once. My mother and Fidel were the same age. I always thought she would outlive him. She didn’t. As she would say, Fidel is so bad the ground doesn’t want him.

  • dry valleys

    Manny, I recall a quote by Boris Yeltsin about trying to be a postcommunist president, along the lines of “we dig and dig and there is no limit to the filth we find”. That is what came to mind.

    Regrettably, especially since Raul’s ascendancy began, the regime might have some way still to go. China is almost as unfree as it ever was. And you can have a country that is good for investors to sink their money into but a nightmare for residents.

    What happens is that we, in the first world, are extremely fortunate to have what we have. I find that my dislike, and even hatred, of David Camoron and Gideon Osbourne is put into perspective.

  • Mark Greta

    In his second term, BHO new “flexibility” will allow him to form strong partnerships with Cuba’s Castro’s and Venezuela Hugo Chavez since they all agree that they hate the USA unless it can be remade into a socialist state.

  • Manny

    @dry valleys
    “we dig and dig and there is no limit to the filth we find”.

    Thanks. That does sum it up.